Pollution is the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance which has harmful or poisonous effects. Pollution can be classified into five categories, air pollution, land/soil pollution, water pollution and noise pollution. Daily human activities may cause pollution to the environment, either directly by actively putting waste into the environment or indirectly through utilisation fertilisers and pesticides whose chemicals are absorbed into the soil and find their way into groundwater or flushed into various watercourses.
Water is essential for life on Earth, which means that any pollutants or contaminants which find their way into water will soon find their way into the bodies of plants, animals and human who drink or come into contact with it.
Contaminated water is the most common form of environmental pollution, and also one of the most damaging to the health of living organisms. Pollution can make water poisonous for fish and other aquatic animals, often resulting in death. Pollution of water sources is a major cause of increased costs for water utility companies such as WASCO in its quest to deliver quality water to the nation.
WASCO uses multiple water sources for the 16 designated urban centres it serves, to ensure delivery of its mandate to the Basotho people. The multiple sources include ground water, dams, rivers and streams. All these sources are at risk of being contaminated through pollution. In this regard, WASCO has developed plans to curb contamination of these water sources. Currently there are Water Safety Plans developed for Maseru, Mafeteng and Botha-Bothe, whose purpose is to ensure that pollution, into the water sources of each centre, is managed and controlled. There are catchment management programmes for Metolong, while those for other remaining centres are yet to be developed.
WASCO has also, throughout its years of projects planning and implementation, taken cognisance of the effects of pollution of its water sources caused by infrastructure projects. Projects such as the Maseru Waste Water Project (MWWP) have boldly adopted minimisation of pollution, specifically into the Maqalika, South Phuthiatsana and Caledon catchment, as one of the project’s main considerations. The project has already constructed waste water pipelines within some areas that fall under South Phuthiatsana catchment. These areas include, MASOWE 2, 3 and 4. Within the Maqalika catchment, waste water pipelines were also constructed and onsite sanitation facilities (Amalulu) were constructed for households with low income. Within the Caledon catchment, sewer lines were constructed for areas such as Thetsane East and at Ha Hoohlo where onsite sanitation facilities were constructed. The onsite sanitation component of the project has been extended across many villages of Maseru, from Ha Mabote, to Lithabaneng and Ha Leqele to name but a few.
WASCO has also embarked on cleaning campaigns aimed at reducing solid waste that often makes its way into the water sources and also a way of building WASCO image within communities. WASCO has in the past few years embarked in cleaning campaigns that took place in Khubetsoana (Lehcoop). As the saying goes, charity begins at home, the Ratjomose Waste Water Treatment Plant (RWWTP) was cleaned and trees were planted as an initiative to enhance greenery within the plant. Recently WASCO took part in a national cleaning campaign along the Kofi Annan by-pass road.
Considering the detrimental impacts of pollution to water sources, their protection should be a concerted and collective effort of all and sundry for meaningful results to be realised.